Tick Followed Tock

tick tock
Flowing or marking time?


Tick followed tock followed tick followed tock.

It happens to the best of us: even the great.

We climb through the tide of our early career and reach the crest of the wave. We find ourselves riding pedagogical water stallions and crying hurrah into the spray.

As teachers we become adepts: our schemes of work are engaging and deep; our lesson plans are so crisp, pacey and flowing that we no longer really need them. Our rotation of reading, independent tasks, word work and busy work are clockwork.

Tick followed tock followed tick followed tock.

There was a time when it was the fashion to be efficient, to be data-literate: a great teacher was a Lord or Lady of classroom management – from the minute-to-minute to the day-to-day to the year-to-year.

In the 90’s, teachers would bus down to Devon or Cornwall, get themselves tanked up on Guinness and windmill their surfboards out into the rising tide. The timing needed to be perfect: paddle out, watching for the ululating crest that would take us back to shore in style – our pot-bellies taut with the black stuff.

We would stand aloft the tallest wave and marvel at the curvature of this phat planet.

This is how we would hone our timing – our total environmental awareness (both depth and temporal perception). And we would return to the Home Counties (or other places) and be ready for the next term of Total Teaching. We were coiled like springs, oiled like derailleur – foiled like the Silver Surfer in our aluminium suits.

But in our striving for perfection, we became automaton: the aluminium seeped into our pores – our blood so diluted with oil that our hard-earned scabs acquired a rainbow-hued caste. Even our language acquired a technical aspect – our imagery became pixelated with the terminology of systems.

Remember when your heart first beat as a teacher and you cried into the spray of the highest wave. Remember when you rode, suffused with the steam rising from the hides of those ghostly stallions. Remember when you did what you did, not out of routine, but because you were new and scared enough to care.

Go back there.

Teach not like a metronome.


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